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Select Economic and Financial Indicators2014201520162017e2018f
Real GDP (% change)
GDP (USD bn)
Inflation (average)7.810.
Fiscal Balance (% GDP)-5.7-9.3-5.8-8.0-7.8
Broad Money (% change, end period)12.635.2-5.714.027.0
Population (mn)15.7216.2116.7217.2417.77
Exports (USD bn)
Imports (USD bn)
Current Account Balance (% GDP)2.1-3.9-4.4-3.6-2.8
FX Reserves (USD bn, end period)
Exchange Rate (average)6.28.610.39.510.3
Sources: IMF, World Bank, UN, Bloomberg, Ecobank Research

Economic Outlook

Economic Outlook

Real GDP: The pace of economic activity is expected to moderately pick up in 2018, alongside higher copper prices and output (worth around 80% of merchandise exports), increased agricultural production, and strengthened activity in the areas of hydroelectric power generation, transport and storage, health, and education. Conducive weather conditions have helped to boost expectations for a good crop harvest in 2018 (following a drought in early 2017), as well as easing power supply challenges (which developed into a crisis amid low rainfall in 2015). These factors should help GDP to grow beyond 4% in 2018. Furthermore, following re-election in September 2016, Edgar Lungu’s government began implementation of the “Zambia Plus” economic reform package aimed at strengthening growth while improving fiscal responsibility.

Inflation: is set to accelerate somewhat in 2018, after slowing dramatically in 2017 from the 17.9% registered in 2016. Over 2017, improved food supply (in the second half of the year) and energy supply helped to contain the pace of price rises; this allowed the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) to ease the tight monetary stance (by a cumulative 525bp) that has aided in controlling inflation. This year, rising oil prices, alongside a dissolution of base effects that helped to ease food inflation last year, will contribute to the expected uptick in inflation.

Fiscal balance: Fiscal pressures are expected to ease slightly in 2018, benefitting from continued pursuit of Zambia Plus objectives to increase growth, boost private sector confidence, improve domestic revenue mobilisation and rationalise spending, improve transparency and accountability in public finance, restore budget credibility, and strengthen social infrastructure. Nonetheless, government efforts to clear arrears are expected to keep the fiscal deficit large in 2018, near the 8.0% of GDP estimated in 2017.

Current account: Despite rising global oil prices, the current account position is likely to ameliorate over the outlook period, owing to improved copper prices and export volumes, with deficit forecast to narrow to around 3% of GDP in 2018.



Another sharp fall in copper prices (as seen in mid-2014 through 2015) would have severe consequences for the economy, impacting the growth, fiscal, FX and trade outlooks. There are several additional stemming from the impact arising from the currently large fiscal deficit and low FX reserves. Lastly, failure to make headway with necessary reforms (aimed at strengthening public financial management and improving the business environment to help diversify the economy away from mining) would upset Zambia’s outlook.

FX, FI and Commodity Information

FX, FI and Commodity Information

TargetNo target, BoZ’s interventions limited to managing volatility while allowing a gradual build up of foreign reserves
Type of interventionVia spot market
Convertible currency?No
Market participantsBoZ, commercial banks, bureaux-de-change
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research


FX ProductsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
On offerYesYes – up to 12 monthsYesNoYes
Daily trading volume (USD mn)n/an/a
Average trade size (USD mn)
Average spread
Trading hours08:30 – 15:30
Settlement cycleT+2T+1 to T+Tenor+2T+Tenor+2n/aT+0
FX Market StructureThe corporate sector (largey based on mining firms) is the largest supply of FX; although, the BoZ supplies FX when deemed necessary to smooth ZMW volatility.
Non-resident FX RegulationsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
Trade and FDI flowNo restrictionsn/a
Financial flow
Resident FX RegulationsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
Trade and FDI flowNo restrictionsn/a
Financial flow
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research


Primary MarketTreasury billsTreasury notesTreasury bondsCentral Bank billsOMOs
IssuerGovernmentn/aGovernmentn/aCentral Bank
End useGovernment financingGovernment & infrastructure financingMonetary Policy tool
Maturity structure91- to 364-days2- to 15-yrsO/N – to 90-days
Coupon paymentsn/aSemi-annualn/a
Secondary Market
Daily trading volumeLimited tradingn/a
Average trade sizeLimited trading
Settlement cyclen/a
Ecobank local affiliate contact details:
Ecobank Zambia, Acacia Park, 22768 Thabo Mbeki Road, Lusaka
Tel: +260 211 250 056 / 057
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research

FI primary market information

FI primary market information

Zambia Debt2014201520162017e2018f
Government debt (% GDP)35.661.460.555.660.0
Sub-Sahara average44.552.656.155.655.8
External debt (official creditors, % GDP)19.433.938.033.835.9
Sub-Sahara average25.530.231.932.933.2
External public debt stock (USD bn)
Share of total sub-Sahara debt (%)
Source: IMF and World Bank

Commodity and trade information

Commodity and trade information

Hydrocarbon & mineral production

Zambia is a major mineral producer with the bulk of output focused on copper mining. The country produced an estimated 750,000 tonnes of refined copper in 2017, making it the largest producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zambia’s other mineral production included 5,000 tonnes of manganese, 3,000 tonnes of cobalt and 4.2 tonnes of gold in 2017, along with several tonnes of precious stones (rubies, sapphires and emeralds). Zambia is a major cement producer, both for domestic & regional consumption, with installed capacity of 3.2mn tonnes, and the country exported 143,509 tonnes in 2016.

Zambia has no known oil and gas reserves. Despite significant exploration over the past decade, to date there have been no commercial discoveries. In 2016 UK independent Tullow Oil acquired assets in Zambia which are believed to hold reserves akin to those of Lake Albert in Uganda where Tullow has discovered over 5 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Zambia’s state-owned refinery, the 25,000-bpd Indeni Refinery at Ndola, imports crude through the 1,700-km Tazama pipeline running from Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam port. Output at the refinery has been steadily falling, owing to the deterioration of equipment, and the government is seeking to sell a majority stake in the refinery in order to attract investment for the rehabilitation of the plant and pipeline. Zambia’s fuel consumption has grown dramatically over the past decade, reaching an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of petroleum products in 2016. Diesel makes up around 70% of consumption, mostly for power generation. As the country’s refinery meets only 30% of domestic demand, Zambia imports the remaining 70% of its petroleum products.

Soft commodity production

Zambia is a diverse producer of soft commodities, both for domestic consumption and for export to regional markets. Zambia is a leading producer of maize and in recent years has eclipsed Zimbabwe as Southern Africa’s bread basket. Maize production has fluctuated in response to periodic droughts in the region; output reached a record-equalling 3.3mn tonnes in 2017 but was expected to fall in 2018 owing to dry weather which reduced planting. Zambia’s periodic maize surplus is traded widely in the region, both formally and informally, with Zimbabwe receiving the largest share. Zambia’s other significant food crops include cassava (1mn tonnes in 2016), sweet potatoes (234,000 tonnes) and wheat (160,000 tonnes). Zambia is one of Southern Africa’s leading sugar producers, with estimated output of 420,000 tonnes in 2016/17, some of which his exported to the sub-region. The country’s other notable cash crops include groundnuts (160,000 tonnes in 2016), tobacco (125,000 tonnes), sunflower seed (61,000 tonnes) and cotton lint (37,000 tonnes in 2016/17).

Trade flows


Zambia’s imports totalled US$8.7bn in 2017. Given the country’s landlocked status, Zambia is heavily reliant on imports of capital and consumer goods, as well as acting as a conduit for its neighbours’ mineral exports to the world market. Capital goods are the largest import category, with imports of machinery, vehicles, aircraft and electronics totalling US$2.2bn in 2017, reflecting the weakly developed manufacturing sector. Given the country’s limited domestic refining capacity, Zambia depends on imports of petroleum products, worth US$860mn in 2017. Zambia is also dependent on imports of industrial raw materials, including US$541mn of fertiliser, US$417mn worth of iron & steel and US$232mn of plastics. As Zambia is Southern Africa’s ‘bread basket’, the country’s imports of food are modest, led by fish (US$125mn), beverages (US$43mn) and palm oil (US$42mn).


Zambia’s exports totalled US$8.1bn in 2017. Copper metal & ore are Zambia’s most valuable exports, worth US$6.1bn in 2017 (including re-exports from the DRC), most of which went to Switzerland, a key copper trading hub, and to China for its industrial sector. Zambia also acts as a re-export hub for the DRC’s mining sector, and exported US$275mn of cobalt metal and oxides in 2017. Zambia’s other mineral exports included US$157mn of cement and US$95mn of gold. The country’s leading soft commodity exports are sugar (US$137mn in 2017), maize (US$97mn, although large volumes are traded informally with its neighbours), tobacco (US$89mn) and cotton (US$38mn).

  • Flag
  • Population
    17.77 M
  • Area
    752,618 sq km
  • Capital
  • Largest city
  • Official language
  • Major languages
    English,Bemba, Nyanja and Tonga
  • Currency
    Zambian kwacha

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